College football and college basketball are big money sports. As more and more financial transparency is demanded from the public, we are learning exactly how profitable amateur athletics can get. One person with plenty of knowledge of the cash you can stack in college sports is Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari. Calipari recently became the proud recipient of a new contract extension that ties him to the college basketball superpower through 2019. The new deal will earn Calipari roughly $4.56 million/year, putting him just behind Nick Saban and Mack Brown when it comes to big-time college coaches. So who better to speak on the topic of collegiate athletics finances than Calipari?
That's exactly what he did when speaking to Mike Lupica on ESPN Radio. Lupica asked Calipari if he ever thought student athletes would get paid. Calipari's answer was particularly interesting, especially because it focused on needing changes to college football. (transcription via Sports Radio Interviews)
“The only way [paying student-athletes] can happen is you do the four superconferences, and those 64 or 72 schools have their own football playoff in each conference and then those four winners are semifinalists for the national title and then you have the title game and you have bowl games and all that revenue is shared between the 72 or 64 schools and then you do the same in basketball. You have their own tournament. … All the revenue from television to tournaments comes back. You get Title IX square, you get money back to the general fund … you give money to intramurals and you take care of this expense of cost-of-living expense.”The superconference proposal has been on the table since realignment discussions got serious in the last few years. Though with five of the six BCS conferences securing new media deals (and the Big East's upcoming renegotiation in 2013), it does not appear that the formation of superconferences would be probable in the near future.
Additionally, the model loosely proposed by Calipari virtually guarantees that no mid-major school could ever win a national championship. Even in a 72-team "superconference" model, there are only 5 open spots to be filled by teams not affiliated with a current BCS conference (counting TCU as part of the Big East). Despite his previous tenures at UMass and Memphis, Calipari apparently foresees only the big-time schools being able handle the financial burden of paying student-athletes.
READ MORE: Calipari has been on this superconference kick for a while. CLICK HERE for more from Calipari on the Eye on College Basketball
SEE MORE: You know who really likes the superconference idea? Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. He's very pleased with Cal's proposal. (artwork:BryanDFischer, Recruiting Guru and Pro Bono Photoshopper)